Inside Marty Knapp’s Photo Gallery

Jean and I spent Thanksgiving afternoon readying the gallery walls for the opening of my GLASS Photography Exhibit. Here are some photos taken after we spiffed everything up for our opening reception on Saturday, November 29th at 3PM. Hope you can make it! And, if you can’t, please enjoy this little photo tour I put together especially for you.
If you click these photos, some nice larger ones will open for your enjoyment!

Front window and entrance to Marty Knapp Photo Gallery.

Front window and entrance to Marty Knapp Photo Gallery.

Years ago, the building that houses our gallery was home to a cafe and bar. It was owned by a man named Angelo, hence the “Angie’s” logo set in tile on our landing.

Left corner of lobby

Left corner of lobby

The lobby area is where we’ll set up refreshments during our Saturday opening.

Right corner of lobby.

Right corner of lobby.

The large ball appears to be floating, but it is the magic of the light creating the effect.

Entry into main gallery room.

Entry into main gallery room.

As you enter the lobby, the main gallery is to your right. Take a peak before you enter.

Reception counter and back wall to main wall

Reception counter and back wall to main wall

When you come in, either Jean or I will be sitting behind the desk. We welcome all our visitors warmly. Please come in and enjoy the world we have created on these dark chocolate colored walls.

Front, window wall and counter. Books, folios, notecards.

Front, window wall and counter. Books, folios, notecards.

At the back is a counter laden with framed miniatures, folios of prints, books and notecards. A complete catalog sits on a bookstand in the center of the counter. To the left is a bin with hundreds of large reference prints, including many not hanging on our walls.

South corner, flare photographs

South corner, flare photographs

The shorter gallery wall and shelf feature photographs of the unusual flare-like effects created as light passes through glass objects. Some of these effects were created by light passing through quartz crystals.

An Old Fence on a Bright Day

Today a deep blue Point Reyes sky was brightened by a riot of cumulus clouds. I noticed the beautiful light when I walked into town to pick up the mail. The sky was so gorgeous that I decided to take a break from some framing I had been working on in my studio. I headed out for Olema Hill, where I found my favorite ranch fence backlit by the mid-day light. The string of clouds and Inverness Ridge beyond contrasts yet compliments the jagged fenceboards and wire.

Click this image to see the larger version of this new photograph:

Fence, Ridge & Clouds, Olema Hill

After the Rain

Last week brought some welcome rain to Point Reyes. We’ve been suffering from a drought that has all of us carefully watching our water usage. This rain freshened the air, brought the birds out and created lots of smiles on main street! I broke away from the studio to explore the Nicasio Reservoir. No, the water level didn’t rise appreciably, but the sky was filled with beautiful post-storm clouds and the light was gorgeous.  Here’s one of the photographs I made using the panorama feature on my new Sony A7R camera. Click the image to see a larger version.

Nicasio and Black Mountain Pano 95

Mt. Vision Moon & Pacific Sunset

Twenty-five years ago this month I stood behind my tripod-mounted camera on a rock outcropping near Mount Vision on the Inverness Ridge. As I gazed to the east, a spectacular full moon rose above the knuckle-like creases of Black Mountain.  In the valley, a thick luminous fog rose, gradually swallowing the mountain’s sensual folds.

This was the second consecutive evening that I had ventured to that high ridge in search of a magical moonrise photograph. On the first evening my timing was wrong, but I ended up witnessing and photographing a spectacular sunset before leaving the mountain. My return to Mt. Vision the next evening almost didn’t happen, but somehow I managed to make it to the top. It turned out to be one of the most memorable of many photographic adventures I’ve had in the Point Reyes National Seashore. I commemorated these two evenings in my book, Point Reyes 20 Years. Here are the essays I wrote about the making of Pacific Sunset and Mount Vision Moonrise. These two photographs are forever connected and etched in my heart and mind.

Pacific Sunset, September 1989
From atop the Inverness Ridge on Mount Vision, you can look into two worlds—westward to the calm esteros that spill past rocky headlands to the Pacific Ocean, or to the east where you’ll see the fat knuckles of Black Mountain protecting the Olema Valley.

On a late November day in 1989, I went to Mount Vision to photograph the full moon. I hiked the trail north to the overlook from where I’d photographed Snow on Black Mountain. The sun had not yet set as I scanned the eastern horizon for the predicted location of the moonrise. As my eyes adjusted to the still bright sky, I saw that the moon was already up; its ghostly form was disappointingly high above Black Mountain. By the time the sky darkened enough for a good photograph, the moon would be hopelessly out of my composition. My shoulders slumped. I sighed audibly and then packed my equipment to trek back up the trail. I loaded everything into the van, and slowly drove out from the trailhead parking area.
To the west, a fiery sun was poised above a bank of Pacific fog, illuminating it and the icy cirrus clouds above it. I pulled over abruptly, as there were only minutPacific Sunsetes left before the sun would plunge into the sea. Abandoning my custom of measuring the light with my spotmeter, I made a wild guess at exposure and took several frames of this remarkable scene. The result is Pacific Sunset from Mount Vision.

As I left the mountain that evening, I knew that I’d return the next night to try to shoot the moon again, but I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams what an incredible sight the next moonrise would be.

Mount Vision Moonrise, September 1989
As I loaded my car the next evening, I felt discouraged about my chances of making a worthwhile moon photograph. A heavy wet fog had settled into the valley where I lived. Pulling onto the highway, I had to switch on my windshield wipers in order to see, and the fog thickened rapidly as I drove up the mountain road. Halfway to the summit, I considered turning the van around and returning to the warmth of my cabin. But something kept me going up the mountain—the fog so dense now I had to put the wipers on high.Mount Vision Moonrise

I was nearly to the top of the ridge with about 100 feet of elevation to go, when it happened. I drove right out of the fog. The darkening sky was clear, and a radiant full moon rose directly above Black Mountain. My heart quickened. And although I didn’t think about this until later, the very fog that had seemed my enemy became a generous partner. The moon shone brightly and magically. Below the mountain, a blanket of luminous fog filled the valley.


Olema Hill Triptych

TOMALES BAY & BLACK MOUNTAIN click for enlarged version

click for enlarged version

In the 1990s my wife and I lived in the village of Olema. A half mile from our home, on Olema Hill, is the northern terminus of the Bolinas Ridge Trail. The trail rises steeply past beautiful northern overlooks of the valley below. I’ve spent many happy afternoons hiking there with my camera. When I think of a view that says “summer hills and Marin County,” I think of a photograph I made there on a June afternoon in 1998.

One day, around the summer solstice in 1998, the evening light beckoned me. I gathered my photo gear and drove up Olema Hill to the trailhead. A short hike up to my favorite spot, a rocky out-cropping, provided the panoramic view I sought. Spread out before my camera’s lens was the valley, bordered by Tomales Bay and the Inverness Ridge to the west and the lush knuckle-like folds of Black Mountain to the east. The light was gorgeous and I was in my favorite spot! As the sun dropped lower it back-lit the undulating hills, adding drama and dimension to the scene before me. I made several exposures with my view camera. Later after proofing the film in my darkroom, I identified negative #17 as the most evocative of these exposures. This piece of film was beautiful. It captured many of the feelings I have about the splendor of these rolling hills we live among. I titled my new image Tomales Bay and Black Mountain.

Making a print that expressed the beauty of this moment turned out to be daunting. Over the years, I’ve worked hard in my darkroom, laboring to express the beauty I saw that day.  I made several good ones, which collectors acquired, but many more went into the recycle bin. After a while I gave up trying to make that print and stopped showing it in my gallery.

OLEMA HILL TRIPTYCH click for larger version

click for larger version

Flash forward to 2012. That year I re-tooled, changing my printing methods from the wet darkroom to digital pigment prints made in a fully lit room. I began scanning my original film negatives. As I became more experienced with the new technology I discovered that these new scans were yielding much more expressive prints than were possible in the darkroom. My spirits were buoyed when I revisited the scan of Tomales Bay and Black Mountain. The scan revealed subtleties in the film never before visible. Finally I was able to make the print I always wanted, true to the lighting I saw and the feelings I had on that summer evening in 1998.

Recently, one of my clients requested a large triptych for her new home. The design required we work from one of my existing singular images and divide it into three large vertical panels that would be framed separately. In searching through possible candidates, we settled on Tomales Bay & Black Mountain. There was no question that it was the strongest option. It worked fabulously as each panel has a strong element of interest, yet together it flowed as one piece of art. Her version hangs proudly in her Manhattan home. This week, I made the first version for display in my gallery. This one is in a single large 30×40″ frame, with a triple window cut in the mat. I call the triptych Olema Hill Triptych, but it’s also known as Tomales Bay & Black Mountain Triptych.

Although the single image version is still one of my favorites, personally, I prefer the triptych view – – it makes it feel more expansive and draws me to look at each panel in detail while still retaining a sense of the overall image. As always, I welcome your comments. Please let me know which of these versions is your favorite and why.



Shell Beach Trail Photos

This last Monday afternoon I found my mind wandering as I worked on a catalog of my photographs. I became drowsy and decided It was time to either take a nap, or go for a walk. I remembered the trail to Shell Beach and gathered my camera gear to head out for a stroll.

Just north of the village of Inverness is a beautiful forested trail. It winds down a hill to Shell Beach, an intimate and sheltered cove favored by the natives. Sunlight filters through the dense canopy, spot-lighting fern stands and other foliage in this rain/fog forest. In May, I had photographed the beach on a couple of early mornings, re-discovering its charms after a decade’s absence. Now I’d returned for a quiet walk, this time, in the afternoon. I brought my camera along in case the forest light was enticing.  It was. Here are a few photographs I made with my IR-converted Panasonic camera as I walked up and down the trail to Shell Beach. Click on the images to access the larger versions.

Shell Beach Trail View 607

Shell Beach Trail View 605


Shell Beach Trail View 618


Trees, Shell Beach Two


Forest Canopy, Shell Beach Trail 603

Spring Mornings at Tomales Bay

Eastern View at Daybreak, Shell Beach

The sunrise, as seen from Shell Beach, Inverness, creates drama at this rocky point.

The fount of beauty at Point Reyes never runs dry. On two recent mornings, I visited the east shore of Tomales Bay to explore the early light. I had visited both Shell Beach and Martinelli Park near Inverness many previous afternoons, but these were my first early morning explorations. I’ve lived at Point Reyes for over forty years, photographing the landscape for nearly thirty of those years, and on mornings like these I feel I’m just beginning to scratch the surface of the visual delights here.

Three Geese, 263, Tomales Bay Mudflats

As the tide grew higher, these three geese patrolled the water’s edge at Martinelli Park in Inverness. Black Mountain rises prominently on the eastern horizon.

Piers and Black Mountain, Teacher's Beach

Three piers are at Teacher’s Beach on the east shore of Tomales Bay.

Inverness Wetlands, Tomales Bay

Beautiful morning light sparkles on Tomales Bay and shines on the mudflats there.

Shell Beach 14.212

During a minus tide I can walk around this rocky point at Shell Beach, Inverness